‘We are not willing to allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we will move forward…’
(Liberty Headlines) After a month of ducking GOP demands to hold a vote and officially go on record in their ultra-secret impeachment probe, House Democrats finally plan to move forward.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a vote would take place this week to affirm the investigation, set rules for public hearings and outline the potential process for writing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The vote this week—the first formal House vote on the current impeachment inquiry—aims to neutralize complaints from Trump and his allies that the process is illegitimate, unfair and lacking in due process.
Pelosi “is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew—that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the President due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Trump had previously said he would refuse to cooperate with the inquisition barring a vote.
In the wake of Pelosi’s announcement, the White House said nothing had changed, making it unlikely that the president will allow surrogates to respond to congressional subpoenas he had previously encouraged them to resist.
GOP members of Congress waged a demonstration last week, storming one of the secure, closed-door committee hearings in the basement of the U.S. Capitol to demand more transparency and agency in the impeachment process.
Despite the move toward a vote, Democrats insisted they weren’t yielding to Republican pressure. Pelosi dismissed the White House’s argument that impeachment requires an authorizing vote as having “no merit.” She noted a federal judge agreed with Democrats in a ruling last week.
Pelosi did not release the text of the resolution but said it would establish procedure for public hearings, authorize the disclosure of closed-door deposition transcripts and set forth “due process rights for the President and his Counsel.”
It’s unclear if that means that White House lawyers will be able to interview witnesses, or if Republicans will be able to call their own. Republicans have noted that the minority had those powers in previous impeachment investigations.
Senate Republicans took a wait-and-see approach to the resolution.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said it was a “good thing” the House was considering a vote. But when asked if Trump should cooperate fully once it passes, he replied, “I’ll leave that up to the White House.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the impeachment process had been “disreputable from the beginning.” Like other Republicans, he wanted the full details.
Some left-leaning government officials have cooperated with the inquiry despite Trump’s orders. But Pelosi’s announcement came just hours after a former White House national security official defied a House subpoena for closed-door testimony, escalating the standoff between Congress and the White House over who will testify.
Earlier Monday, Charles Kupperman, who was a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, failed to show up for the scheduled closed-door deposition after filing a lawsuit asking a federal court in Washington to rule on whether he was legally required to appear. In a statement, Kupperman said he was awaiting “judicial clarity.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Kupperman’s suit has “no basis in law” and speculated that the White House didn’t want him to testify because his testimony could be incriminating.
Democrats are investigating a whistleblower complaint, which Schiff helped to coordinate, alleging that Trump put pressure on the Ukrainian government to pursue politically motivated investigations as the administration was also withholding military aid to the country.
“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would’ve wanted him to come and testify,” Schiff told reporters. “They plainly don’t.”
Schiff said the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry will move forward, with or without testimony from Kupperman and other witnesses.
Democrats have indicated that they are likely to use no-show witnesses to write an article of impeachment against Trump for obstruction of justice, rather than launching potentially lengthy court battles to obtain testimony.
“We are not willing to allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we will move forward,” Schiff said.
Schiff said over the weekend that he wants Bolton to testify, though that has not yet been scheduled. He told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that Bolton, who, according to other witnesses, had concerns about the Ukraine policy, “has very relevant information.” But he predicted that the White House would fight a Bolton appearance.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press